Four Decades On
Concerted efforts needed to keep Sinou. S. relations on track
In 1972, at the J injiang Hotel in downtown Shanghai, the Shanghai Communiqué was signed by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and U. S. President Richard Nixon, establishing the framework for the normalization of bilateral relations, which would be realized on January 1, 1979, with the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America.
Currently, China-u.s. ties are one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. Sound Sino-u.s. relations are in line with the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the broad-based expectations of the international community, Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 1, 2018.
Nevertheless, opportunities and challenges facing bilateral relations are both unprecedented against the backdrop of the ongoing trade conflict between the two largest economies in the world.
According to Diao Daming, an associate professor on Sino- U. S. relations at the Renmin University of China, Washington has been delivering very noisy signals to Beijing, which have rarely been seen in history and is worrisome. He made the remarks at a symposium marking the 40th anniversary of China-u.s. diplomatic relations at the Jinjiang Hotel in December 2018.
“It seemed that Trump wanted to solve the issue of trade deficit to boost the economy, but the United States sent messages that it intended to push China into a corner to compress its strategic space,” Diao said. “Maybe Washington itself does not know what it wants at the moment.”
Like Diao, many participants expressed concerns about the turn in U.S. policy toward China.
In the 1970s and 80s, China and the United States collaborated against the Soviet Union and after the Cold War, the two countries developed extensive interdependence in the economic field, Zhou Wenzhong, former Chinese Ambassador to the United States, said.
Top Chinese leaders have consistently reiterated the importance of close bilateral ties during the past decades. In 2011, the two countries agreed to build a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. Xi’s proposal to build a new type of major-country relationship between China and the United States won President Barack Obama’s backing.
However, after taking office in 2017, Trump steered an abrupt policy change. His administration named China as a strategic competitor and rival power, which heralded back to before 1972. Uncertainty was very obvious in the Trump administration’s policy toward China, Zhou said.
Xi and Trump agreed in Buenos Aires not to impose new additional tariffs and to step up negotiations between the economic teams of the two sides toward the removal of all additional tariffs and reaching a concrete agreement that would lead to win-win results.
In spite of this, some contradictory developments showed that the U.S. president and his key officials have not reached consensus on a policy toward China, with disagreement abundantly clear, Zhou said. “Thus, the Chinese feel confused when dealing with diplomatic issues with the United States because we do not know who is at the helm in Washington.”
“We hope bilateral ties get back on track and the United States again views China as a partner rather than a rival power,” Zhou said. According to him, the past four decades proved that cooperation brings benefits to both sides, while confrontation could be damaging.
Since China and the United States have different political and social systems, it is normal that they have divergence on some issues. The trade deficit should be tackled through bilateral negotiations, but a trade war should never be resorted to as it does harm to both sides. For example, General Motors, one of the largest automakers in the United States, was affected by the additional tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on China- origin imports, since many of its cars produced in China were subject to the restrictive measures.
In October 2018, the International Monetary Fund lowered its forecast for world economic growth for 2018 and 2019, citing increasing trade tensions as the main threat to the world economy. If the situation continues, the U.S. economy will also be affected.
“Bilateral problems need to be resolved, but this cannot be done through complete concession by the Chinese side or complete victory by the United States. Both sides must compromise and concede,” Yang Yi, former Director of the Strategic Studies Institute with the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army, said.
The United States is in an offensive posture, while China is defensive in bilateral relations at the moment. The U.S. anxiety about China’s rapid development led to its extreme pressure on China, severely hurting bilateral relations, Yang said. “The two countries should have an inclusive mentality toward each other and should not pursue complete victory or absolute superiority,” he added.
According to Douglas Paal, Vice President for Studies of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the post-cold War, unipolar world, where the United States is the most dominant country and others are much less a factor, has changed, but there’s great disorder and disarray in the global power structure. The